The Culture Doesn’t Have to Define You

Though I know firsthand that there are many kind, hardworking, positive and helpful employees who work within every state and federal agency, we all know that some entities have a well-known and less-than-positive reputation that causes us to cringe at the mere idea of having to call or visit them.

For example, if you just Google, “visiting the DMV,” top links include articles on “7 Secrets for Surviving the DMV” and “How to Get Through the DMV with Your Sanity Intact.” Imagine if there were entire blog posts dedicated to surviving a visit to your organization! Yet, when it comes government entities, we have to continue utilizing them, even if we don’t enjoy the experience.

Well, the purpose of this article isn’t to come down hard on public entities or their employees. However, a less-than-positive work experience with one of our own state agencies this past week (that included a 45-minute on-hold time, followed by a disconnected phone call because the phones “shut off” at 4:30, which was preceded by a refusal to call us back if the phone was disconnected because they “don’t do call backs”) got me thinking.

Just because you might have a culture that for some reason has declined to the point of discouraging customer service doesn’t mean you can’t still shine! Think about it. The darker it is, the brighter even the smallest light will appear.

  • Be pleasant! A kind, helpful attitude is always welcome, especially when it’s unexpected.
  • Listen. Upset customers or patrons often just need someone to hear them out.
  • Go one step further. Little things like walking your customer to the product they’re looking for (rather than just saying, “It’s on aisle 10”) or staying on the call to make sure their transfer goes through are little actions that make a big difference.
  • Own it. When possible, take ownership of solving the problem instead of passing the problem off to another colleague.
  • Focus on making a difference one day at a time. Even if you feel your impact is minimal, it makes a difference to the one person you were able to help.

Are you letting your organization drag you down? You organization doesn’t have the power to make you change your attitude or how you treat others. We can choose to be helpful, or we can choose to not be helpful. This week choose to be the best YOU can be.

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